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Five Go to Billycock Hill

Enid Blyton

  Chapter One


  ‘Where’s the map?’ said Julian. ‘Is that it, George? Good! Now - where shall we spread it?’

  ‘On the floor,’ said Anne. ‘A map is always easiest to read on the floor. I’ll push the table out of the way.’

  ‘Well, be careful, for goodness’ sake,’ said George. ‘Father’s in his study, and you know what happened before when someone pushed the table right over!’

  Everyone laughed. George’s father so often came pouncing out of his study if any sudden noise was made when he was working.

  The table was pushed out of the way and the big map unfolded and spread out over the floor. Timmy was surprised to see the four children kneeling down around it, and barked, imagining this was some kind of new game.

  ‘Be quiet, Timmy!’ said Dick. ‘You’ve got into trouble once this morning already for making a row. And stop brushing my face with your tail.’

  ‘Wuff,’ said Timmy and lay down heavily on the map.

  ‘Get up, idiot,’ said Dick. ‘Don’t you know we’re in a hurry? We want to trace our route to Billycock Hill...’

  ‘Billycock Hill - what a lovely name!’ said Anne. ‘Is that where we’re going?’

  ‘Yes,’ said Julian, poring over the map. ‘It’s near some caves we want to see - and there’s a Butterfly Farm not far off, and...’

  ‘A Butterfly Farm!’ said George, surprised. ‘Whatever’s that?’

  ‘Just what it sounds like!’ said Dick. ‘A farm for butterflies! Toby, a friend of ours at school, told me about it. He lives quite near it and he says it’s a most interesting place - they breed butterflies - and moths, too - from eggs, and sell them to collectors.’

  ‘Do they really?’ said Anne. ‘Well, I must say I used to enjoy keeping caterpillars and seeing what they turned into - it was like magic to see a lovely butterfly or moth creep out of the chrysalis. But a farm for them - can we really go and see it?’

  ‘Oh, yes - Toby says the men who run it are very decent about showing anyone round,’ said Julian. ‘Apparently Billycock Hill is a good place for rare butterflies, too - that’s why they’ve got their farm there. They rush about with nets half the time - and at night they go moth-hunting,’

  ‘It sounds exciting,’ said Dick. ‘Well, what with caves to see, and a butterfly farm, and Toby to visit, and...’

  ‘And just Five together again on a sunny week’s holiday!’ said George, giving Timmy a sudden thump of joy. ‘Hurrah for Whitsun - and thank goodness our two schools had a week’s holiday at the same time!’

  The four cousins sprawled on the floor, looking with great interest at the map, following out a route with their fingers. As they traced out the way, there came an angry noise from the study, where George’s father was at work.

  ‘Who’s been tidying my desk? Where are those papers I left here? Fanny, Fanny - come here!’

  ‘He wants Mother - I’ll get her,’ said George. ‘No, I can’t - she’s gone shopping,’

  ‘Why can’t people leave my papers alone?’ came her father’s voice again. ‘Fanny! FANNY!’

  Then the study door was flung open and Mr Kirrin came striding out, muttering to himself. He didn’t see the four children on the floor, and fell right over them. Timmy barked in delight and leapt at him, thinking that for once in a way George’s father was actually having a game with them!

  ‘Oooh!’ said George, as her father’s hand came over her face. ‘Don’t! What are you doing, Father?’

  ‘Uncle Quentin - sorry you fell over us!’ said Julian. ‘Shut up, Timmy - this isn’t a game!’

  He helped his uncle up and waited for the explosion. His uncle brushed himself down and glared at Julian. ‘Have you got to lie on the floor? Get down, will you, Timmy? Where’s your mother, George? Get up, for goodness’ sake! Where’s Joan? If she’s been tidying my desk again I’ll give her notice!’

  Joan the cook appeared at the doorway, wiping her floury hands on her apron. ‘Whatever’s all this noise about?’ she began. ‘Oh, sorry, sir - I didn’t know it was you. I...’

  ‘Joan - have you been tidying my desk again?’ almost shouted George’s father.

  ‘No, sir. Have you lost something? Never you mind, sir, I’ll come along and find it,’ said Joan, who was used to Mr Kirrin’s ways. ‘Pick up that map, you four - and put the table back. Stop barking, Timmy. George, take him out for goodness’ sake, or your father will go mad.’

  ‘He’s only excited because we’re all together again,’ said George, and took Timmy into the garden. The others followed, Julian folding up the map, grinning.

  ‘We ought to put Uncle Quentin into a play,’ said Dick. ‘He’d bring the house down! Well - do we know the way, Julian? And when do we start?’

  ‘Here’s Mother,’ said George as someone came to the front gate with a basket.

  Julian ran to open it. He was very fond of his kindly, pleasant-faced aunt. She smiled round at them all.

  ‘Well - have you decided where to go - and what to take with you? You’ll be able to camp out this beautiful weather - what a lovely Whitsun it’s going to be!’

  ‘Yes,’ said Julian, taking his aunt’s basket from her and carrying it indoors. ‘We’re going to Billycock Hill, and as our friend Toby lives at the bottom of it, at Billycock Farm, he’s going to lend us all the camping gear we need.’

  ‘So we shan’t need to load our bikes with tents and mattresses and things,’ said Dick.

  ‘Oh - good!’ said his aunt. ‘What about food? You can get it at Toby’s farm, I suppose?’

  ‘Rather! We shan’t feed there, of course,’ said Julian. ‘But we shall buy any eggs or milk or bread we need - and Toby says the strawberries are already ripening!’

  Aunt Fanny smiled. ‘Well, I needn’t worry about your meals, then. And you’ll have Timmy with you, too, so he’ll look after you all. Won’t you, Timmy? You won’t let them get into any trouble, will you?’

  ‘Woof,’ said Timmy, in his deepest voice, and wagged his tail. ‘Woof.’

  ‘Good old Tim,’ said George, patting him. ‘If it wasn’t for you we’d never be allowed to go off so much on our own, I bet!’

  ‘Uncle Quentin’s a bit on the war-path, Aunt Fanny,’ said Dick. ‘He wants to know who’s been tidying his desk. He came rushing out of the study, didn’t see us lying on the floor round our map - and fell right over us.’

  ‘Oh dear - I’d better go and find out what papers he’s lost now,’ said his aunt. ‘I expect he forgot that he had a tidying fit on last night, and tidied his desk himself. He’s probably put a lot of his most precious papers into the waste-paper basket!’

  Everyone laughed as Mrs Kirrin hurried into the study.

  ‘Well, let’s get ready,’ said Julian. ‘We won’t need to take much, as old Toby’s going to help us. Macs, of course - and don’t forget yours, Timmy! And jerseys.' And one or two maps.’

  ‘And torches,’ said Anne, ‘because we want to explore those caves. Oh, and let’s take our swimsuits in case we find somewhere to bathe. It’s warm enough!’

  ‘And candles and matches,’ said George, slapping the pocket of her shorts. ‘I’ve got those. I got Joan to give me three boxes. And let’s take some sweets.’

  ‘Yes. That tin of humbugs,’ said Julian. ‘And I vote we take our little portable radio!’

  ‘Oh, yes - that’s a good idea,’ said Anne, pleased. ‘We can hear our favourite programmes then - and the news. I don’t suppose we shall be able to buy newspapers.’

  ‘I’ll get out the bikes from the shed,’ said Julian. ‘Dick, get the sandwiches from Joan - she said she’d make us some, because we shan’t get to Toby’s farm till after our dinner-time -
and I bet we’ll be hungry!’

  ‘Wuff,’ said Timmy, who knew that word very well.

  ‘He says remember biscuits for him,’ said Anne with a laugh. ‘I’ll go and get some now, Tim - though I expect you can share meals with the dogs at Billycock Farm.’

  Joan had two large packets of sandwiches and cake ready for them, and two bottles of orangeade. ‘There you are,’ she said, handing them over. ‘And if you get through all those you’ll no longer feel hungry. And here are Timmy’s biscuits - and a bone.’

  ‘You’re a brick, Joan,’ said Dick, and put his arm round her to give her one of the sudden hugs she liked, ‘Well, you’ll soon be rid of us - a whole week at Whitsun - isn’t that luck - and with such glorious weather, too.’

  ‘Buck up!’ called Julian. ‘I’ve got the bikes - and no one’s had a puncture, for a change. Bring my mac, Dick.’

  In three minutes everything was packed into the bicycle baskets, or strapped at the back. Timmy made sure that his biscuits and bone were packed by sniffing at each basket until he came to the smell he was hoping for. Then he wagged his tail and bounded round excitedly. The Five were together again - and who knew what might happen? Timmy was ready for anything!

  ‘Good-bye, dears,’ said Mrs Kirrin, standing at the gate to see them go. ‘Julian, take care of the girls - and Tim, take care of everyone!’

  Uncle Quentin suddenly appeared at the window. ‘What’s all the noise about?’ he began impatiently. ‘Oh - they’re off at last, are they? Now we’ll have a little peace and quiet! Good-bye - and behave yourselves!’

  ‘Grown ups always say that,’ said Anne as the Five set off happily, ringing their bells in farewell. ‘Hurrah - we’re off on our own again - yes, you too, Timmy. What fun!’

  Chapter Two


  The sun shone down hotly as the Five sped down the sandy road that ran alongside Kirrin Bay. Timmy loped easily beside them, his tongue hanging out quite a long way. Anne always said that he had the longest tongue of any dog she had ever known!

  The sea was as blue as forget-me-nots as they cycled along beside it. Across the bay they could see little Kirrin Island, with Kirrin Castle towering up.

  ‘Doesn’t it look fine?’ said Dick. ‘I half wish we were going to spend Whitsun at Kirrin Cottage, and going bathing, and rowing across to George’s little island over there.’

  ‘We can do that in the summer hols,’ said Julian. ‘It’s fun to explore other parts of the country when we can. Toby says the caves in Billycock Hill are marvellous.’

  ‘What’s Toby like?’ asked George. ‘We’ve never seen him, Anne and I.’

  ‘He’s a bit of a joker,’ said Dick, ‘Likes to put caterpillars down people’s necks and so on - and beware if he has a magnificent rose in his buttonhole and asks you to smell it.’

  ‘Why?’ asked Anne, surprised.

  ‘Because when you bend down to smell it you’ll get a squirt of water in your face,’ said Dick. ‘It’s a trick rose.’

  ‘I don’t think I’m going to like him much,’ said George, who didn’t take kindly to tricks of this sort. ‘I’ll probably bash him on the head if he does things like that to me.’

  ‘That won’t be any good,’ said Dick cheerfully. ‘He won’t bash you back - he’ll just think up some worse trick. Don’t scowl, George - we’re on holiday! Toby’s all right - a bit of an ass, that’s all.’

  They had now left Kirrin Bay behind and were cycling down a country lane, set with hawthorn hedges each side. The may was over now, and the first wild roses were showing pink here and there. A little breeze got up, and was very welcome indeed.

  ‘We’ll have an ice when we come to a village,’ said Julian after they had cycled about six miles.

  ‘Two ices,’ said Anne. ‘Oh dear - this hill - what a steep one we’ve come to. I don’t know whether it’s worse to ride up slowly and painfully, or to get off and push my bike to the top.’

  Timmy tore up to the top in front of them and then sat down to wait in the cool breeze there, his tongue hanging out longer than ever. Julian came to the top first and looked down the other side.

  ‘There’s a village there,’ he said. ‘Right at the bottom. Let’s see - yes, it’s Tennick village - we’ll stop and ask if it sells ices.’

  It did, of course, strawberry and vanilla. The four children sat on a seat under a tree outside the small village shop, and dug little wooden spoons into ice-tubs. Timmy sat nearby, watching hopefully. He knew that at least he would be able to lick out the empty tubs.

  ‘Oh, Tim - I didn’t mean to buy you one, because you really are a bit fat,’ said George, looking at the beseeching brown eyes fixed on her ice cream. ‘But as you’ll probably get very thin running so far while we’re cycling, I’ll buy you a whole one for yourself.’

  ‘Wuff,’ said Timmy, bounding into the little shop at once and putting his great paws up on the counter, much to the surprise of the woman behind it.

  ‘It’s a waste, really, giving Timmy an ice,’ said Anne when George and the dog came out. ‘He just loosens it with his tongue and gulps it down. I sometimes wonder he doesn’t chew up the cardboard tub, too!’

  After ten minutes’ rest they all set off again, feeling nice and cool inside. It really was lovely cycling through the June countryside - the trees were so fresh and green still, and the fields they passed were golden with butter-cups - thousands and thousands of them, nodding their polished heads in the wind.

  There was very little traffic on these deserted country roads - an occasional farm-cart, and sometimes a car, but little else. The Five kept to the lanes as much as they could, for they all preferred their quaint winding curves set with hedges of all kinds, to the wide, dusty main roads, straight and uninteresting.

  ‘We ought to get to Billycock Farm about four o’clock,’ said Dick. ‘Or maybe sooner. What time do we have our lunch, Julian? And where?’

  ‘We’ll find a good place about one o’clock,’ said Julian. ‘And not a minute before. So it’s no good anyone saying they are hungry yet. It’s only twelve.’

  ‘I’m more thirsty than hungry,’ said Anne. ‘And I’m sure old Timmy must be dying of thirst! Let’s stop at the next stream so that he can have a drink.’

  ‘There’s one,’ said Dick, pointing to where a stream wound across a nearby field. ‘Hey, Tim - go and have a drink, old fellow!’

  Timmy shot through the hedge to the stream and began to lap. The others dismounted and stood waiting. Anne picked a spray of honeysuckle and put it through a buttonhole of her blouse. ‘Now I can sniff it all the time,’ she said. ‘Delicious!’

  ‘Hey, Tim - leave some water for the fishes!’ shouted Dick. ‘George, stop him drinking any more. He’s swelling up like a balloon,’

  ‘He’s not,’ said George. ‘Timmy! That’s enough! Here, boy, here!’

  Timmy took one last lap and then raced over to George. He pranced round her, barking joyfully.

  ‘There - he feels much better now,’ said George, and away they all went again, groaning as they cycled slowly up the many hills in that part of the country, and shouting with delight as they sped furiously down the other side.

  Julian had decided where to have their midday meal - on the top of a high hill! Then they could see all the country for miles around, and there would also be a nice cooling breeze.

  ‘Cheer up,’ he said as they came to the steepest hill they had so far encountered. ‘We’ll have our lunch at the top of this hill - and a good long rest!’

  ‘Thank goodness,’ panted Anne. ‘We’ll be as stiff as anything tomorrow!’

  It really was lovely at the top of the hill! It was so high that they could see the countryside spreading for miles and miles around them.

  ‘You can see five counties from here,’ said Julian. ‘But don’t ask me which - I’ve forgotten! Let’s lie in this heather and have a bit of a rest before we have our lunch.’

  It was soft and comfortable lying in th
e springy heather, but Timmy did not approve of a rest before lunch. He wanted his bone! He went to where George had put her bicycle down, and sniffed in her basket. Yes - his bone was most certainly there! He glanced round to make sure that everyone was resting, and nobody watching him. Then he began to nuzzle a paper parcel out of the basket.

  Anne was lying nearest to him, and she heard the crackling of the paper and sat up. ‘Timmy!’ she said, shocked. ‘Oh, Timmy - fancy helping yourself to our sandwiches!’

  George sat up at once, and Timmy put his tail down, still wagging it a little as if to say, ‘Sorry - but after all, it is my bone!’

  ‘Oh - he just wants his bone,’ said George. ‘He’s not after our sandwiches. As if he should take them, Anne! You might have known he wouldn’t!’

  ‘I feel rather like having mine now,’ said Anne. ‘Julian, can’t we have some? - and I do want a drink.’

  The idea of a drink made everyone long to begin lunch and soon they were unwrapping ham and tomato sandwiches, and enormous slices of Joan’s fruit cake. Julian found the little cardboard drinking cups, and poured out the orangeade carefully.

  ‘This is fine,’ said Dick, munching his sandwiches and gazing out over the rolling countryside, with its moorlands, its stretches of farmland with the fields of green corn, and its sloping hills. ‘Look - see that hill far away in the distance, Julian - over there - would that be Billycock Hill do you think? It’s rather a funny shape.’

  ‘I’ll look through my field-glasses,’ said Julian, and took them from their leather case. He put them to his eyes and stared hard at the far-away hill that lay to the north of them.

  ‘Yes - I think it probably is Billycock Hill,’ he said. ‘It’s got such a queerly-shaped top; it looks a bit like an old Billycock hat.’

  He handed the glasses round, and everyone looked at the far-off hill. George put the glasses to Timmy’s eyes. ‘There you are!’ she said. ‘Have a squint, Timmy! Julian, it doesn’t look so very far away.’